5 Reasons Your Web Conferencing Sucks

You use free video or web conferencing services, don’t you?

There’s a dichotomy that exists in Information Technology. We know; we hear from system admins, network admins and engineers. IT employees ask everyone in the company to use specific software — the ones they provide and support. And yet, it’s commonplace for IT employees to use whatever they want to do the job. In fact, IT employees love research and development and spend part of their time figuring out if another, better tool is available.

IT also looks for other solutions because sometimes what was promised doesn’t really deliver. One nameless IT employee confessed his company bought Skype for Business and yet everyone in IT hates it; so they use whatever free tool is available.

Here’s a few reasons why free sometimes doesn’t cut it.

1. Free services don’t look professional.

Sure, it’s fun to see silly hats and crazy filters, but not among potential customers or even business colleagues.

When talking with friends, it’s okay to see lag time and suddenly lose video, but when it happens often in the workplace, you’re wasting time … and productivity. Selecting a professional product with customer service people at the ready keeps meetings on track and productive.

2. They have poor performance and reliability.

Some free video and web conferencing services are free for a reason — they’re beta testing using you as the tester. They’re not reliable, down frequently, and modifications are made on the fly.

You can’t count on it for a business meeting. You can’t count on it period.

3. Those free services don’t integrate with anything to make your business more efficient. (That’s wasted money and time.)

Integration is where you really get the bang for your buck with video and web conferencing systems. The good ones have connections with all types of software from email clients to marketing automation tools and CRM systems.

It reduces the amount of double entry and rework, saving you time and money.

4. They lack customer support.

Sometimes, you just need help. You need a friendly voice to help answer questions — a real person to talk with instead of a pre-recorded message. You don’t want to have to rely on some forum to get answers, you just need an expert to help you quickly.

5. They aren’t scalable.

Lastly, free services are good for a few web meetings, but … they aren’t viable long-term. You usually can’t have several people meet at once. And you certainly can’t make it an enterprise solution.

It’s not worth free web conferencing.

So the next time you’re thinking of trying new technology, think about whether it’s really worth the risk.

View the True Costs of Free Conferencing

How to Avoid the (Dreaded) Leader-less Meeting

Have you ever been in a meeting where there is no clear moderator (or facilitator) and nobody seems to care about taking notes? Yeah, we’ve all been there.

Typically these types of meetings result in conversations wandering aimlessly along with any clear direction or outcome to be focused on. The leaderless meeting can be a complete time-suck for employees at all levels – wasting valuable working time in a conference that has no facilitator to push the conversation towards a meaningful goal.

If this sounds like your meetings, you need to turn things around—and fast. One idea is to introduce a few changes.

Why?
A recent blog written by Jack Welch describes how useless meetings will make or break your career by the way you are perceived in them. And the same can be said about if you continuously schedule useless meetings. But it’s more than perception, it’s about wasting time and ensuring you can deliver as a team.

 

How to fix it:

  1. Assign a facilitator and note taker

Seems simple right? It is.

Every meeting that you go to should have a clearly identified facilitator and note taker. This simple task of assigning these two roles can nearly instantly turn your meetings around.

These two roles should be decided upon, and the power should be granted to the people filling the positions, prior to the meeting starting.

Facilitator responsibilities

  • Create a meeting agenda.
  • State the purpose of the meeting at the start.
  • Start the conversation.
  • Ask pointed questions about agenda items.
  • Keep the conversation on track without stifling creativity.
  • Determine deliverables and solicit ownership from attendees.
  • Make an effort to include everybody.
  • Assist note taker as necessary.

 

  1. Clarify responsibilities

Often times when leaderless meetings happen it’s because responsibilities and guidance have not been given to the meeting facilitators. The people who fill the positions of facilitator and note taker should not only be informed of what their responsibilities are – they should be fully capable of performing their duties.

Note-taker responsibilities

  • Organize notes by agenda item.
  • Keep track of deliverables, timelines and owners.
  • Ask clarifying questions.
  • Summarize agenda topics to attendees
  • Draft follow-up emails to attendees with notes, deliverables and the corresponding accountable parties.

 

Take action, inspire action 

Take initiative and be adamant about valuing your time and the time of your team members.

A good leader and facilitator can improve both the process and the outcome of meetings. Take the time to train your employees on how to facilitate their meetings and you have the potential to improve productivity greatly. If that’s not an option, you can take action and help your colleagues who are leading meetings develop some basic meeting facilitation skills.

Meetings don’t have to be bad. In fact, meetings serve a very important role and are used by the most cohesive and collaborative of teams. They could be powerful, important, and impact your company’s revenue positively. Those are the best meetings.

But careless meetings and leaderless meetings can absolutely ruin the productivity of a team or a company. So don’t be afraid to cancel a meeting that is not going to serve a purpose or drive towards a goal.

 

Learn more about improving your meetings

At ReadyTalk, we love meetings and have a lot of information to help you improve communication, collaboration and meetings. Read more about this and other common meeting mistakes and pitfalls including bad organization, lack of concentration, and bad technology. And if you can avoid these, you’ll be on your way to hosting more successful, productive, and purposeful meetings.

Talkin’ to ReadyTalk at Marketo’s The Marketing Nation Summit, Booth #127

We love automation — where people can be more productive with just a few tools, like ReadyTalk’s products. So it’s no surprise we’ll be at Marketo’s The Marketing Nation Summit from May 9 – 12.

Win big by viewing great products and getting cash prizes

Join us at Marketo at Booth #127 from May 9 – 12 in the Expo Hall, and discover how you can host flawless events with the power of ReadyTalk and Marketo combined. And over the course of four days, you could win up to $9000 CASH at the booth. What else would you want to do in Vegas?

We’ll also have our experts there, too.

On Tuesday, May 10 at 2:30 p.m. in the Expo Hall, Beth Toeniskoetter, ReadyTalk Webinar Product Manager, leads a session on improving your webinars.

On Wednesday, May 11 at 2 p.m. in room 314/315 hear Bo Bandy, ReadyTalk Marketing Director, leads a session on marketing to the prospect you’ve forgotten. (Spoiler: It’s the customer.)

Who else are we excited to see? Our customers!

Rick Siegfried is speaking on Tuesday, May 10 at 2 p.m. in room 310, diving into the complex curiosities of email marketing. This session will be jam packed with Marketo specific tips and tricks for driving engagement. Way to go, Rick!

See you in Las Vegas!

Big Issues for Big Law and Some Ideas to Overcome Them

No matter if you call them Big Law or Mega Firms, even larger legal companies have issues. Your office isn’t like “Boston Legal” — which might be fun — or “Law and Order” over at your mega law firm. And yet sometimes you have to pivot as if your firm was smaller or compete against companies that weren’t even players before.

Your clients want your firm to provide upfront prices … and do it all.

Law Practice Today indicates some clients want upfront pricing, even from larger firms. And they give specifics about whether your Mega Firm should offer value-based pricing — or pricing outside of billable hours. At any rate, your services should be clear to your customers and you should provide information about what they’re receiving for your service.

Competition is tough. After “Bloody Thursday” in 2009, many lawyers were laid off from big firms and went to start their own companies as well as take their services online.

And ABA Journal calls out a big threat: larger accounting firms that now provide everything in house — audit services, accounting, and legal services even internationally, like Deloitte. These big consulting firms already participate internationally and have a foothold in markets like China. All inclusive services provided by one company is difficult to compete against. It makes it more important than ever to network across fields to make it easier for customers to get the consulting services they need.

Technology
No matter big or small, these days lawyers need to understand technology. Cyber security. You probably needle your clients on what information to protect and how to share it, but … what about your own data? No doubt your IT department has given you parameters, but that may not be enough.

Employee fraud, hacking, phishing — these are all problems most law firms aren’t ready to face. And yet their data is some of the most sensitive. Investing in IT is critical as the fallout from a successful attack or revealed data can be more than embarrassing; it could be career ending or firm ending.

Your IT department may also need help determining service providers that meet your needs, like billable hours if you bill by the hour. You probably need providers that have integrated solutions, too, to save your firm time and money. You may even need to use technology to collaborate with outside partners, but securely.

Change
The smaller companies have zest and zeal. They are able to go after clients, give price discounts, and pivot more easily. The lower price makes them look appealing to clients, even corporations who may have occasional needs for outside counsel.

Focus on what sets you apart. Although they may have a discounted rate, you offer many more years of experience — that equates to quality. Ed Sabol says:

Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.

Hang in there

Being a lawyer is hard, even after you’ve attained acclaim like a partner. You’ve provided counsel and have years of experience behind you. As long as you can learn to change, get a little technology under your belt — maybe even some younger lawyers who are technophiles, and partner outside your own firm then you’re set.

Fail Fast = Iterate

Iteration is the name of the game for most successful software companies. They release product beta versions, test, change, release, retest, and release again. They adapt with agility. They pivot. And they do it every day, all day long.

This mantra helped build Silicon Valley companies.

But making anything new or even somewhat new requires you to iterate. If you’re a cook, you iterate all the time — too much salt, baked too long, etc. — keeping a mental note of what needs to change. Even parents iterate. One reward system didn’t work for your son or daughter — no problem. You try another reward system while trying to be consistent.

Iteration should be the mantra for marketing, too. Marketers need to try new things. Just like with cooking and parents, new things don’t always work. Sometimes taking a risk delivers a big flop. But sometimes these new ideas soar, delivering more results than intended.

Remember the Old Spice YouTube commercials, “The Man Your Man Can Smell Like”? It was an Internet sensation. It was silly. It was memorable. It featured a handsome fella. It also updated an old brand. Millennials probably didn’t even know what Old Spice was until that commercial. And Gen X and even Baby Boomers were beginning to forget until that commercial. And by posting it on YouTube, rather than using “traditional” media, it allowed the video to “go viral.” People added it to their own personal Facebook posts and the reach went crazy.

Here are a few steps marketers can do to live that mantra and be as agile as high-tech developers.

  1. Plan.

Planning is still important. It’s vital to ensuring you’re going in the right direction and that you have the right resources assigned. Planning helps even when there’s the potential for mistakes and change. The plan should be revisited often and revises as you iterate.

  1. Take calculated risks, collaborate, and make mistakes.

It seems contrary right — encourage mistakes. But when you think about great inventions, some are a series of amazing mistakes. Penicillin, x-rays, the microwave, and Post-It Notes were all created by mistake. Mistakes happen when people try new things. Driving your first car or riding a bike for the first time wasn’t without at least one issue. It’ll happen in the workplace, too, even for the most experienced people.

Collaborate. Brainstorm. Meet. Get opinions from inside your team and out, maybe even outside the company. Every marketer has people they rely on and respect. Get those people to tell you what needs improvement. Technology is abundant for this!

The calculated risk part is important, too. What can you afford to risk? Money? Wasted time and effort? Your brand’s reputation? What level of risk can your company realistically accept? And what might be the potential rewards? If you’re thinking maybe you’re risking brand’s reputation, consider whether that’s a good gamble. Old Spice, the example before, is a great one. They suddenly pushed their brand in a new direction and if it flopped, what’s the worst people might think? Old Spice was just silly?

By looking at the potential reward as well as possible issues, you can make the decision to go for it.

  1. Test and monitor.

Try your idea with a small group of people and see what happens. Let them beta test the idea and help you work out the kinks. If you’re still working out bugs, continue to grow your sample group until you’re reaching what you think of as success. (Know what success looks like, too!)

When you go-to-market, keep track of what’s happening. Keep measuring and review the trends.

  1. Pivot. (Iterate.)

After seeing what’s happening, determine what needs to change. Make those changes and reconsider all the steps. Does the plan need to change? Do you need to back off a calculated risk and try something else? Do you need to go back to a small group and test again?

Failure happens.

In Marketing, we’re hard on ourselves. When we see something crash and burn, we tend to think game over; we give up. The game isn’t over though! Think of all the giant boondoggles that actually were visionary — the airplane, rockets, and even the computer. Steve Jobs didn’t throw his hands up in the air with Woz and say, “No one wants a personal computer. Let’s just pack it in.”

Maybe you need a new angle, some tweaks to copy, some new imagery, and some time. But for goodness sakes, don’t give up. Trying new things is hard. But not trying is even worse.

As Seth Godin says, “In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.”  Go stand out. Try, crash and burn, and try again.